Research shows people are delaying making vital changes to homes because of the clinical and stigmatising appearance of products like handrails and ramps.

Older people with health conditions and mobility issues are delaying making vital changes to their homes, such as installing handrails and ramps, due to the off-putting and stigmatising appearance of products, as well as the complexity in getting support and information, Ageing Better’s new report warns.

The report, ‘Homes that help: A personal and professional perspective on home adaptations‘, is based on interviews carried out by Northumbria University, with older individuals and their families, as well as professionals including Occupational Health specialists, handyperson services and local authority staff. It also involved an innovative camera study with 30 individuals documenting the way they navigated their homes – the first time this technology has been used in this setting.

The decision to adapt the home was often made when the person was already struggling

It found that participants with reduced mobility often made the decision to install equipment and adapt their homes too late, usually once they were in crisis such as after an injurious fall or a long period of struggling to move around their homes and carry out basic activities such as daily washing. People in the study revealed they used often-hazardous coping strategies such as limiting their food and drink intake to avoid using the bathroom, using baby wipes instead of bathing, and sleeping on the sofa as they couldn’t climb the stairs to their bedroom.

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